Secrets of the Double-Tap: Getting More Instagram Likes
Instagram is addictive.
Scroll through your feed, and you are greeted by a near endless supply of eye candy. See something you love, and double-tap to like it.
Your feed may mostly be your friends, or you might follow a few brands who do Instagram right.
Either way, your feed is rife with product placement: two of your friends posing together with their Starbucks lattes; the quirky mustache toy your cousin bought for her dog; the amazing meal two of your coworkers are enjoying at the bistro down the street from the office.
It is this natural advertising, the way consumerism blends so perfectly with Instagram, that makes it such a great platform for brands.
Based entirely around photographs and video clips, it’s a great place to tell a story. It’s a great place to inspire goodwill around your brand.
Instagram is now the fastest growing social network.
However, despite that popularity, it is still underutilized by companies, so there’s a lot of potential to make a big impact.
The main feed is still chronological instead of algorithmic, meaning that once you earn a follower if you post consistently they will likely see it.
This also means earning those double-taps is something of a numbers game; the more people who see your updates, the more likes you will probably get – but there are a few tricks to increasing the likelihood that your followers will double-tap.
Post at the Right Time
Since Instagram operates with a single main feed where updates are all posted chronologically, there are periods where your update will be totally lost within all the noise.
There are also periods where your update might stand out were anyone there to see it, but unfortunately, all your followers are asleep.
These surges and declines of activity are actually quite predictable.
A company called Latergramme, which has a service for scheduling Instagram posts, analyzed the times of the day when engagement was the highest.
They defined “engagement” as the total likes and comments divided by the user’s number of followers.
Here are the times that stood out as the best times to post (all times in Eastern Standard Time):
- Sunday: 5pm
- Monday: 7pm and 10pm
- Tuesday: 3am and 10pm
- Wednesday: 5pm
- Thursday: 2am and 7am
- Friday: 1am
- Saturday: 2am
The very best time overall was Wednesday at 5pm.
Their explanation? Instagram users stuck at work or school, waiting for the day to end, are scrolling through their feed but not posting.
Use the Right #Hashtags
Hashtags are, of course, the best way to reach people on Instagram who do not currently follow you.
That’s because on Instagram, users actively browse their favorite hashtags, looking for interesting images and inspiration.
Instagram has also introduced a new feature that allows users to follow hashtags.
However, this fact leads to a lot of spammy hashtag use.
Tools like TagsForLikes give you a block of tags to copy and paste into your postings which have nothing to do with the image being posted.
Instagram allows 30 tags; your updates look spammy if you are using a lot of them though.
Instead, do some searches relevant to the subject of your image to see which hashtags are being actively used.
Pull together a small collection of hashtags, including several of the most popular (if relevant), to reach the most targeted and likely to engage the group.
The top ten Instagram hashtags right now are:
- #love: 1.221 billion posts
- #instagood: 704.1 million posts
- #photooftheday: 478.8 million posts
- #fashion: 456.9 million posts
- #beautiful: 445 million posts
- #happy: 413.9 million posts
- #cute: 404.3 million posts
- #tbt: 401.4 million posts
- #like4like: 393.9 million posts
- #followme: 374.3 million posts
Since these tags are so popular, it stands to reason that if you use them consistently, more people will find your posts and end up liking them.
For example, jeweler Verragio used the hashtag #love with this post and got over 1600 likes in under an hour:
Some brands, like Dove, also coin their own hashtags and encourage their followers to use them in their own posts:
With the #BeautyIs hashtag, Dove is both promoting their brand of skincare and beauty products, while pushing a positive message. A search for #BeautyIs reveals over 13,000 posts with the hashtag.
Hack Your Image Qualities
On Instagram, image quality is important.
The “eye candy” factor is a lot of what drives likes, so you want to do everything in your power to ensure that your company’s Instagram posts are high quality in order to be engaging.
Tip #1: Edit your photos (but be very careful!)
First of all, there’s a misconception that the most successful Instagram photos are taken with a smartphone and uploaded with minimal editing using enhancement apps and photo filters.
The truth is, many of the most popular photos are taken with a higher quality camera (either standalone or a high-end smartphone), and undergoes an intensive manual custom editing process on a computer. Only when it’s absolutely perfect will it be uploaded to Instagram.
Some common edits that most raw photos will need include exposure and brightness adjustments, cropping, minor color corrections, and small touchups.
Be careful if you do your own photo editing though. You don’t want to be too overzealous and end up with a #photoshopfail hashtag like this photo posted by Talor Swift in her bid to slim down the waist of the girls.
So if you’re not familar with photo editing, you should consider using a professional graphic designer instead. Or, try subscribing to an unlimited graphic design service for a more affordable solution.
You definitely want to “stage” your shots a little; make sure you’ve got great lighting and that everything in the frame is essential. Consider the rule of thirds and place the focal point slightly off center to make a bigger impact.
The social analytics company Curalate did a study on what drives the most engagement on Instagram, and found that in general, images with the following qualities receive the most engagement:
- Light images perform 24% better than dark images
- Images with a strong sense of foreground and background perform 29% better than shots that are solely foreground
- Blue-dominated images perform 24% better than red-dominated images
- Images with a single dominant color perform 17% better than images with many competing colors
- Low saturation images perform 18% better than colorful images
- Highly textured images perform 79% better than smooth images
While every audience is unique, you can use these findings to guide the type of images you select to use on Instagram.
There is a lot of opportunities still for brands on Instagram.
The network is still growing rapidly, there aren’t too many companies already crowding the field, and even some of those who have created a business account don’t know what to do next.
Unlike them, come to the table prepared with the tricks of the trade: the right posting times, hashtags, and image qualities to drive engagement on your brand’s images.